A Pictorial History

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WEST HAM UNITED

Steve Marsh & Stuart Allen

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2008-09 Barclays Premier League

Premier League Blue

Sheffield United confirm victory over West Ham in Tevez case

IN THE NEWS : 23rd September 2008

West Ham could be set for a £30m payout after an independent FA tribunal ruled in Sheffield United's favour over the Carlos Tevez affair, and the Blades have not given up hope that as a result of today's ruling the Premier League may also be forced to take action.

"The Blades began their legal fight for reinstatement some 16 months ago, which also included an arbitration hearing against the Premier League," said United in a statement on their website. "This award could now pose a question as to what the Premier League will do." United refused to comment further on the matter when questioned by guardian.co.uk today and it is unclear what further action the Premier League could take, with reinstatement an impossibility, though a hefty windfall from West Ham now seems likely.

United's claim dates back to the 2006-07 season when Tevez played a major role in helping West Ham avoid relegation, at the expense of Neil Warnock's side. In April 2007 the Hammers were fined £5.5m by the Premier League for breaching the rules in relation to Tevez and Javier Mascherano, but were not docked any points. Tevez was cleared to play on for the Hammers, Mascherano having departed for Liverpool in January, and the Argentine striker scored the only goal of the game in West Ham's 1-0 win over Manchester United on the last day of the season, a result that ensured the club stayed in the top flight.

United lost an initial appeal against their relegation in the summer of 2007, but continued their fight in an FA tribunal. That tribunal has today ruled in their favour.

"I can confirm that both clubs have been notified of the ruling," said the United chairman, Kevin McCabe. "The arbitration panel has awarded in our favour. The matter is still legally in process so I do not wish to comment any further until we have completed that process."

Warnock, the Blades' manager during the club's season in the top flight, said today that he feels justice has been done. "I think everyone in the country knows this is the right verdict," he told Sky Sports News. "This justifies what Kevin McCabe has said all along: that we were hard done by, that it wasn't done legally and we were fighting for our rights. It was scandalous. It changed one or two lives and it shouldn't have happened. This verdict puts your faith back into the justice system."

West Ham to launch appeal with CAS over Tevez ruling

IN THE NEWS : 24 September 2008

As had been widely expected, West Ham United have announced they are preparing to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the ruling made earlier this week by an independent panel over the Carlos Tevez affair.

"West Ham United can confirm today that our lawyers are drafting a statement of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, in relation to the case involving the club and Sheffield United," read a statement from the London club.

An independent panel ruled in favour of Sheffield United over the controversy surrounding the Argentine striker, who helped West Ham avoid relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2006-07 season. Sheffield United finished three points below West Ham in the league table and were relegated to the Championship, where they remain.

The ruling could cost West Ham as much as £30m in compensation, payable to Sheffield United, although the club has today disputed the independent panel's core assertion that Tevez's contribution was worth the three points that separated the sides.

"The club can confirm that while we respect the judgment of the FA arbitration panel, we do not accept that one player's contribution can be placed over that of the team as a whole nor used as the basis for judging the results of a 38-game season," continued West Ham's statement.

"This ruling undermines the significant efforts of our entire playing squad and coaching staff over the duration of the 2006-07 Premier League season and does not take sufficient account of the performances of the other 19 clubs in the competition.

"We acknowledge again that the club broke Premier League rules in the original signing of Carlos Tevez but we were dealt with accordingly by an independent Premier League commission and accepted the significant punishment handed down at that time."

Manager: Alan Curbishley / Gianfranco Zola

Chelsea and West Ham United agree Steve Clarke compensation package

IN THE NEWS : 15th September 2008

Chelsea have come to an agreement with West Ham United over compensation for the move of Steve Clarke. Chelsea had hoped to receive £5million for their first-team coach, but have agreed to a settlement of about £1m. The deal will be announced this afternoon. Clarke will be appointed as assistant to Gianfranco Zola, the new West Ham manager, and is likely to start work tomorrow. Zola had named Clarke as his preferred coach when he was interviewed for the managerial job.  Kevin Keen, the reserve-team coach who was in charge of West Ham's 3-2 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, will also take on first-team duties.

Clarke, 45, had two years left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, which was worth £800,000 a season including bonuses. His three-year contract at West Ham is likely to be worth less than half of that. He resigned as Chelsea's assistant first-team coach on Thursday in an attempt to pave the way for a move to Upton Park.Clarke's departure is a setback to Chelsea because he was very popular in the dressing-room, particularly with the English core of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole. The club have no imminent plans to replace him. The Scot, who first began his association with Chelsea as a player in 1987, enjoyed an excellent relationship with Zola during their time together at Stamford Bridge. He made a valuable contribution as an assistant under Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, and was in charge of most of the training sessions under Avram Grant, but has had less involvement in the reign of Luiz Felipe Scolari.

West Ham will have removed all trace of former sponsors, travel operator XL, from their stadium, shop, website and programme before next Saturday's home match against crisis club Newcastle. West Ham owner and chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, through Icelandic bank Landsbanki, helped fund XL and will lose significant money after the company went into liquidation. A club spokesman said the situation would not impact upon the team and that the Premier League club had already received several new offers of sponsorship, particularly following the appointment of Gianfranco Zola as manager.

West Ham block out old sponsor

JAN LASTUVKA Czech International goalkeeper signs from Ukraine club SHAKHTAR DONETSK

IN THE NEWS - 4th August 2008

IN THE NEWS - 6th August 2008

FREDRIK LJUNGBERG contract terminated on undisclosed terms by mutual agreement

WIGAN ATHLETIC : Barclays Premier League

Upton Park

2 - 1 (Ashton 2)

16th August 2008

Att: 32,758

Referee: S. Bennett

Green

Behrami

Upson

Davenport

Neill

Faubert (Boa Morte)

Parker (Mullins)

Noble

Etherington

Cole

Ashton (Sears)

FABIO CAPELLO has made it abundantly clear that his most important job as England manager is to give his players confidence. With Dean Ashton, he decided a shot across the bows might be more effective and, as the Italian watched him at Upton Park, it almost worked like a dream. Capello told the West Ham striker that he needed to lose weight to establish himself as an international player after spending most of last season out with ankle, knee and hamstring injuries. In response, Ashton not only looked a little slimmer against Wigan, he also scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes. But, in trying to prove a point, he went too far and is due to find out today if his injury curse, this time self-inflicted, has struck again. In the 69th minute, Ashton pulled up after blasting an over-ambitious free-kick into the back of the stand behind Chris Kirkland's goal from 35 yards out and was taken off after treatment. West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said: We think it was cramp but we will find out Sunday morning. The first goal was terrific and he has scored quite a few in pre-season. He is a bit leaner now and has worked hard on his diet. Ashton's goals almost killed of f the challenge of Steve Brace's side before it had started. Yet the Wigan manager's half-time team talk got his side back into a game they had looked disinterested in. The visitors were as impressive in the second half as they were awful in the first and, after Amr Zaki pulled a goal back with a rasping volley in the 47th minute, they were in control. The on-loan striker has enjoyed the title of FIFA's best in the world after firing 27 goals in 48 games for Egypt and was a real threat, but he should have enjoyed a match-whining debut. Wilson Palacios, an Arsenal trialist before teaming up with Bruce at Birmingham and then Wigan, used his impressive strength to drive his side on from midfield. It was not just then* long throws and passes which caused West Ham problems and ZaM was presented with a hat-trick of good chances in the second half but lacked composure. Bruce said: 'Saying I am frustrated is an understatement. We gave them a doing in their own backyard and came away with nothing. Curbishley should count himself fortunate and hope the win will ease the pressure on him. He looked relieved when Ashton's first goal went in after just three minutes. It was the result of good work from Scott Parker and Julien Faubert, who combined down the right. From the Frenchman's cross, Ashton turned and smashed the ball into the roof of goalkeeper Kirkland's net as Paul Scharner hesitated. Wigan were stunned and conceded again seven minutes later, with Faubert the architect for a second time. He swung in a curling corner that was knocked on to an unmarked Ashton, and the striker does not miss from a couple of yards out, whatever his weight.

MANCHESTER CITY : Barclays Premier League

City of Manchester Stadium

0 - 3

24th August 2008

Att: 36,635

Referee: H. Webb

Green

Behrami

Davenport

Upson

Neill

Faubert

Noble

Parker

Etherington (Boa Morte)

Ashton

Cole (Sears) (Mullins)

There is nothing like your team winning a football match to ease a troubled mind. Thaksin Shinawatra is a fugitive in exile, his wife is appealing a three-year sentence for tax evasion and he has £800million of assets frozen back in Thailand. Yet at least for 90 minutes yesterday, Shinawatra could smile — along with the faithful who never desert the boys in blue. The club, in which the ex-Thai Prime Minister has invested some of the millions his former authorities did not manage to grab, recorded their first win of the season. It was a convincing one, too. Good football and good finishing left a good feeling all round, as, the gloom was lifted at the City of Manchester Stadium. Three cracking second-half goals in 11 minutes against 10-man West Ham quickly buried the memories of City's opening game. Brazilian Elano, struck twice and Daniel Sturridge, who City plucked from Coventry when he was just 14, opened the scoring. That was only what City deserved, as they had looked much the better side even before Mark Noble's 38th-minute sending-off tipped the scales firmly in their favour. By then, Stephen Ireland had seen a shot cleared off the line by Calum Davenport, while Tal Ben-Haim saw his follow-up deflected onto the bar by the same player. Martin Petrov then hit a tremendous, 25-yard free-kick which hit the outside of Robert Green's left post with the Hammers keeper rooted to the spot. Noble's sending-off was totally deserved for sheer stupidity, after he collected two yellow cards in the space of five minutes. The first came when he lost the ball and decided to haul it back with his hand as he lay on the ground. Moments later, he was desperately late sliding in on a loose ball and took Michael Johnson out at the ankles. The second yellow — and subsequent red card from ref Howard Webb — was inevitable. Despite that, it took until the 65th minute before City finally used their numerical and quality advantage to force open the floodgates. Sub Dietmar Hamann laid the ball into Sturridge, who held off his man and swept it out wide to Petrov. His cross was only half-cleared by Matthew Upson and there was Sturridge, having made ground into the box, to lash a shot over a startled Green and into the roof of the net. A little dance followed in celebration from a player who celebrates his 19th birthday a week today. The second goal followed on 70 minutes, as the ball flowed through Johnson and Vedran Corluka before Ireland pulled it back from the touchline. The ball looked to have gone behind Elano but this bloke has some skill. He brought it back under control with one touch and sent it flying into the bottom corner with another. Six minutes later the scoring was complete. Elano hit his second as boss Mark Hughes waited for the ball to go out so he could sub him. Ireland was again the supplier, having made it to the tquchline again before pulling the ball back for Elano to side-foot home. Hammers boss Alan Curbishley will be feeling a bit dazed and confused after this as well. He will want to know why Noble got himself sent off and why his back four went to sleep in the second half.

08_08_16 WHU v. Wigan Athletic 08_08_24 Manchester City v. WHU

VALON BEHRAMI makes his Hammers debut against WIGAN ATHLETIC at Upton Park

MACCLESFIELD TOWN : Carling Cup Third Round

BLACKBURN ROVERS : Barclays Premier League

08_08_27 WHU v. Macclesfield Town CC3 08_08_30 WHU v. Blackburn Rovers

Green

Behrami (Hines)

McCartney (Reid)

Upson

Davenport

Faubert

Bowyer

Mullins

Boa Morte

Ashton

Sears (Cole)

Upton Park

4 - 1 (Bowyer, Cole, Hines, Reid)

27th August 2008

Att: 10,055

Referee: C. Penton

Tiny Macclesfield turned the pressure screw on West Ham manager Alan Curbishley even tighter at Upton Park. The Cheshire League Two team came to London's East End having lost all three league games this season and hadn't even scored a goal. But they took their Premier League opponents to extra-time on an embarrassing night for Curbishley. Macclesfield were ahead after only five minutes as local boy Gareth Evans stuck. It took West Ham until the 74th minute to draw level, Lee Bowyer — playing his first game since February — heading home Julien Faubert's cross. West Ham finally took the lead in the 100th minute. Fauber was again the provider, his cross finding Dean Ashton who headed goalwards for substitute Carlton Cole to head in. Zavon Hines, another substitute, hit the Hammers' third on 105 minutes and Kyel Reid a fourth three minutes from the end. Curbishley is already favourite to be the first top-flight manager to be out of a job this season and, after a shocking 3-0 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday, this performance did him no favours at all. It was Evans whose goal guaranteed Macclesfield's survival In the League last season, and he gave the Hammers an early warning when he flipped the ball inside for Francis Green to hit a vicious shot over the bar. And within minutes West Ham had gone behind. Things went wrong as Calum Davenport was injured as he back-tracked to keep out a corner. While he was being treated, Izak Reid swung over another corner from the right and Evans ripped a close-range header into the roof of the net with George McCartney desperately trying to keep it out. There were only 10,055 inside the ground and the West Ham fans made their feelings plain as they booed heartily. The home team should have retaliated almost straight away but teenager Freddie Sears could only force keeper Jon Brian into a save down to his left, instead of netting. Brian did well again when he held a shot from Ashton. West Ham lost right back Valon Behrama on 27 minutes with a head injury, allowing one of their academy prospects, Hines, to come on. Curbishley didn't take long to start substituting players in the second half, bringing on Reid for McCartney and then Cole for young Sears. Cole had a chance just past the hour but hit his volley straight at Brian. Macclesfield, who beat Championship side Blackpool in the first round, were reduced to 10 men when Reid was sent off for a second yellow card in the 90th minute.

ZAVON HINES makes his Hammers debut (sub 27 mins) against MACCLESFIELD TOWN at Upton Park

IN THE NEWS : 27th August 2008

Anton joins the Black Cats

Sunderland have completed the signing of defender Anton Ferdinand from West Ham United on a four-year deal. Ferdinand, who is thought to have cost the Wearside club £8m, has been drafted in to help reinforce Sunderland's rearguard and has become the Black Cats' ninth signing of the summer. Ferdinand, who is believed to have rejected a move to Newcastle earlier this summer, admitted that he would find it difficult to leave his hometown club but the England Under-21 international now hopes to improve as a player, much like his elder brother Rio Ferdinand, who left Upton Park for Leeds and subsequently Manchester United. "It was hard leaving West Ham because I have been there for 16 years but after meeting Roy Keane I knew it was time for a change," he said. "This is a great challenge for me and I feel it is an exciting time at Sunderland. I think the move will do me good."

Upton Park

4 - 1 (Davenport, o.g., Bellamy, Cole)

30th August 2008

Att: 32,905

Referee: M. Riley

Green

Behrami

Upson

Davenport

Neill

Faubert (McCartney)

Parker

Noble (Mullins)

Etherington

Cole

Ashton (Bellamy)

ALAN CURBISHLEY got it in the neck from fans last week. But his problems pale into insignificance compared to the ordeal West Hani's goalscorer Calum Davenport has gone through. Only now is the defender comfortable enough to reveal the full, ala'rm-ing details and the fallout from the broken neck he suffered giving his all on the pitch on January 19. The stricken star's spine took the full force when 6ft lin team-mate Darius Henderson landed on him in his first game on loan at Watford against Charlton. Davenport, 25, spent a week in hospital before slowly regaining his fitness and confidence from what he has finally revealed was a nightmare brush with disaster. He said: "The specialist told me that if the player who landed on my neck had been 5Ib heavier I would be in a wheelchair. I have   seen people that has happened to. "It was touch and go, really quite serious. I fractured vertebrae In my neck. "But the swelling around the. nerve endings, which reach down to your arms and legs, was really quite bad. I lost feeling in my right hand and leg for a while where my spinal cord had taken the impact. "I could have easily thrown in the towel but I worked my way back. I am fitter than ever and everyone at the club has been brilliant to me." Davenport added: "Those dark times make you really appreciate   whatever   you   get from then on. I am loving life at the moment and really enjoying my football. It is now about taking each day as it comes, not taking things for granted •because it's been a long road back. "I am chuffed to be playing at a massive club in the best league in the world and long may that continue." Davenport was rumoured to be on his way out of the Hammers but With determination and other casualties in defence, he has played all four games this season. He stuck his neck out to head in the opening goal on 13 minutes a; striker Craig Bellamy also celebrated his return from injury witl a stunning goal in the second half. A Christopher Samba own-goa and a second in as many games for Carlton Cole wrapped up a second 4-1 win in a week, but West Ham': performance was most notable. They were robust instead of routine, swashbuckling as opposed to staid, and sensible, which has been the hallmark of play for some months. The Hammers could have lost 4-1 as easily as won 4-1, which made the rollercoaster return of hate figure Paul Ince to Upton Park all the more dramatic. Hammers fans actually have a lot to thank Ince for. His appearance at the Boleyn Ground whipped the crowd into a frenzy, which inspired the players to go for it in their traditional way. Rovers' sub Matt Derbyshire was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside and the pendulum swung wildly for 90 minutes. Davenport added: "The fans really played their part. All the stuff surrounding the game made for a real atmosphere and to be fair to the boys, they rose to the "occasion. West Ham keeper Robert Green saved Jason Roberts' penalty after Carlton Cole handled a free-kick and then made a point-blank save from Brett Emerton. Roberts had put the visitors right back in it at 2-1 after 22 pulsating minutes. He said: "If I'd stuck that penalty away things would have been totally different. "People look at the result but I don't think it really reflects the performance. "We tried to push on towards the last 10-15 minutes of the game and that's -where we really got caught out. Overall, we played pretty well but, obviously, we are disappointed with some of the goals we conceded." The Hammers now head into the international break with the Curb-o-meter on the up with the fans.

IN THE NEWS - 1st September 2008

George McCartney heads to Sunderland

West Ham United have allowed George McCartney to leave for Sunderland after his written transfer request was accepted. The club received a substantial undisclosed fee for McCartney, who said his desire to leave was due to family reasons. Despite signing a new five-year contract in July and the club rejecting Sunderland's initial approach earlier in the summer, McCartney subsequently handed in a written transfer request. Explaining his reasons to fans, McCartney said: "I had two great seasons with West Ham and I'd like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to play for a club with the history they have and their fantastic supporters. But for personel reasons, this is the right move for me. "My wife, Elaine, didn't settle in London and Sunderland have offered me the chance to return to the north-east, where I spent ten years after joining the club as a youngster," McCartney added. "I'd like to wish West Ham and Alan Curbishley all the very best of luck."

IN THE NEWS - 2nd September 2008

CURBISHLEY Alan H&S

CURBISHLEY TENDERS RESIGNATION AS WEST HAM MANAGER

Alan Curbishley has resigned as manager of West Ham because of a lack of control over transfer policy.

Curbishley tendered his resignation on Wednesday and it was accepted by owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson. Last week's sale of Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland angered Curbishley, but he was reportedly placated by assurances that there would be no further departures. When full-back George McCartney then followed Ferdinand to Sunderland, Curbishley's patience reached breaking point.

"The selection of players is critical to the job of the manager and I had an agreement with the club that I alone would determine the composition of the squad," Curbishley said. "However, the club continued to make significant player decisions without involving me. In the end such a breach of trust and confidence meant that I had no option but to leave. Nevertheless, I wish the club and the players every success in the future."

A West Ham statement said the club had accepted Curbishley's resignation "in the best interests of both parties".

Keen takes temporary charge

Kevin Keen has been confirmed as caretaker manager of West Ham United until a new manager is appointed and will take charge of all first-team matters.

The process to find a replacement for Alan Curbishley is already under way with the club beginning to draw up an initial shortlist of potential candidates.

Three new signings

The club have also confirmed that the Premier League has registered Italy striker David Di Michele and Congolese left-back Herita Ilunga and both player will join up with the rest of the first-team squad shortly. Also joining the Hammers is Hungarian Under-19 forward Balint Bajner, the youth international striker joins on a seson-long loan with a view to a possible permanent transfer from Romanian club Liberty Oradea.

IN THE NEWS - Friday 5th September 2008

West Ham United have announced the capture of Uruguay international defender Walter Lopez on a one-year contract. The Hammers snapped up the 22-year-old left-back on a free transfer following his decision to leave former club River Plate. The three-times capped international impressed during a brief trial at Upton Park. His arrival comes just 48 hours after Alan Curbishley resigned as manager citing a lack of control over the club's transfer movements. "Walter is a very attacking full-back who can get forward," caretaker manager Kevin Keen told the club's official website, he is another West Ham-type player who will hopefully show everyone at the club what he can do." Lopez, who has also had spells in Spain and Mexico, added: "I am really happy to be here and I hope to have a good career. "I watch the Premier League all the time on TV. It is the number one league in the world, the best and it is great to be a part of it. "I am very happy that I am here and I get to play for West Ham. The fans are very passionate and I hope to show them what I can do." Lopez will wear the No.5 shirt.

IN THE NEWS - 11th September 2008

ZOLA Gianfranco H&S

Zola Named as new Hammers manager

Gianfranco Zola has been confirmed as the new manager of West Ham United. The 42-year-old Zola, who has agreed a three-year contract, was the unanimous choice of the Board and comes to the Boleyn Ground from the Italian Football Association where he has worked for the past two years primarly within the successful Under-21 set-

IN THE NEWS - 12th September 2008

Hammers end XL shirt sponsorship

West Ham have ended their sponsorship deal with collapsed travel firm XL Holidays and will play at West Brom on Saturday in an unbranded kit. The Hammers have suspended all sales of replica shirts and hope to remove all branding from their Upton Park ground. West Brom do not have a shirt sponsor, so Saturday's Premier League match will see both sides in plain strips. The Hammers could face a £5m shortfall after XL went into administration on Friday, BBC Sport understands.   It is understood West Ham have only received £2.5m from a three-year deal with the Sussex-based travel company. A £7.5m deal, worth £2.5m a year, was signed in February 2007 but only one year of the contract has been paid so far.

Hammers chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is also one of the guarantors of a 207 million Euros (£163m) bank loan given to XL.   A West Ham statement said: "In light of the circumstances surrounding the company, West Ham United have taken the decision to immediately terminate their relationship with XL Holidays. "In view of this, the club have suspended all sales of replica shirts until further notice. This will also involve in due course the removal of XL Holidays branding from all West Ham United platforms."

"West Ham United will be seeking further talks with the administrators at the earliest opportunity to clarify the situation regarding the company," added the statement.   "As stated, our sincere sympathies are with those XL Holidays customers and staff directly affected by today's news."   Meanwhile, it emerged that Gudmundsson and his son Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, who is also a billionaire, became guarantors of the huge bank loan on Wednesday.   The guarantee was originally provided by Icelandic shipping company Eimskip, in which Gudmundsson has an interest.

West Ham will now start the search for another shirt sponsor and wait, along with XL's other creditors, to see what administrator Kroll does with the company.   A contingency plan had been built into the deal in the event of the club being relegated, with the annual payment being reduced from £2.5m if the Hammers did drop down a division.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION : Barclays Premier League

08_09_13 WBA v. WHU

The Hawthorns

2 - 3 (Noble, Neill)

13th September 2008

Att: 26,213

Referee: L. Probert

Green

Neill

Davenport

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami (Faubert)

Parker

Noble

Boa Morte (Etherington)

Ashton (Di Michele)

Cole

GIANFRANCO ZOLA has promised exciting football — and that is just what he got before he even delivered his first team talk. At the end of a frantic, exciting, crazy afternoon, the little Italian walked into the West Ham dressing room and told his new charges: 'Unlucky. I'll see you on Monday. What the new Upton Park supremo had witnessed two days after taking over from Alan Curbishley had offered plenty of food for thought. It was as if the Hammers had decided that, before their new boss had handed out any instructions, cavalier football was the order of the day — and that's what they provided Unfortunately, it was also suicidal, careless football, too. Wonderful for the fans (particularly of the opposition) but not the long-term recipe for successful, winning football, which is what the East End fans really want, even though they demand it be accompanied by a bit of style Yet there should be no griping on an afternoon that saw West Brom lose their tag as the only Premier League club without a shirt sponsor following the collapse of West Ham's backers, the XL holiday firm The match was great entertainment, full of action, twists and turns in the plot and finally settled seven minutes from time by Chris Brunt sealing West Brom's first victory of the season to take Tony Mowbray's newly-promoted team off the bottom of the table. Still, it was enough to have any manager reaching for the tranquillisers. Mqwbray summed it up perfectly. Winning was a big relief, but his side have to get better 'I've always said we'll score goals, and it was nice to show the doubters we can,' said the West Brom manager. 'But it could have been 6-6 and we have to control games better than that. Teams with world-class forwards will hurt us if we play like that. West Ham caretaker-manager Kevin Keen praised the attitude of his players, particularly in fighting back to take a 2-1 lead after conceding an early goal and then having striker Dean Ashton taken off after 19 minutes with a gash on the back of his head that needed six stitches But he added, at the conclusion of his one-match reign: 'I wasn't much of a defensive player and I think there was a bit of me out there. The turning point of a contest, which at times resembled a Masters five-a-side match, was a blunder by Robert Green just when West Ham were threatening to take control. Zola had barely settled into his seat in the directors' box when his new team went behind as Barja Valero, Albion's £5 million record signing from Real Mallorca, made an instant impact with an inviting cross that was headed firmly in by James Morrison Ashton's departure did not deter West Ham, capably led by Carlton Cole, from working their way back into the match. They were back on terms just before the half-hour as Mark Noble tapped in after Scott Carson had only partially saved Valon Behrami's header, and ahead seven minutes later with a rare, but splendid goal from Lucas Neill After Calum Davenport had headed Noble's deep corner back across the penalty area, the Hammers skipper struck a left-foot volley that gave Carson little chance. The lead was to be short-lived, however,, as Green fumbled a quickly taken free-kick from Brunt and then brought down Leon Barnett as he scrambled for the loose ball. Although the goalkeeper got a slight touch on the ball, there was no doubt his momentum sent the Albion centre-back sprawling. Referee Lee Probert appeared spot-on in awarding the penalty, which was dispatched by Roman Bednar A match of such sustained excitement merited a winner and Albion claimed it, marginally deservedly so. Zola will have noticed the breakaway goal followed a West Ham corner. Full-back Paul Robinson led the charge from defence and supplied Brunt with an accurate pass, which he swept past the stranded Green. Even then there was time for Scott Parker, all alone six yards out, to spurn an injury-time equaliser as he allowed Carson to dash out and block. Zola's first training session will be interesting tomorrow. He surely will not be working on a 10-man defence as he jokingly predicted. But maybe he'll suggest a few more at the back than he saw in this match.

HERITA ILUNGA and David Di Michele (sub 19 mins) both make their Hammers debut against WEST BROMWICH ALBION at

The Hawthorns

NEWCASTLE UNITED : Barclays Premier League

Upton Park

3 - 1 (Di Michele 2, Etherington)

20th September 2008

Referee: P. Dowd

Att: 34,743

08_09_20 WHU v. Newcastle

Green

Behrami

Upson

Neill

Ilunga

Faubert

Noble (Mullins)

Parker

Etherington (Boa Morte)

Di Michele

Cole (Sears)

A cynic might say that anyone could have been in charge against Newcastle United and won, but Gianfranco Zola, making his managerial debut, won more than three points. He won over the West Ham United fans, who are notoriously hard to please, he impressed the players and wooed the media. Newcastle may be a limping zebra in full sight of all predators, but this victory belonged to the diminutive Sardinian. "He is a calm man, when he speaks you listen, he commands respect. He was a brilliant player. Zola told the players to enjoy themselves, control the game and be patient. Crucially, he told David Di Michele to sharpen up in front of goal, which the on-loan Italian did, scoring twice and setting up a third goal. "I told Di Michele he can do unbelievable things, but he needs to improve his finishing — which shows he listens to me very carefully," Zola said. "I have seen him in Italy many times doing unbelievable things, but then coming in front of the goalkeeper and missing. Today he did not do that, so I am very pleased." Di Michele, on his home debut, soared from being a "Who is he, again?" sort of player to the next Paolo Di Canio. Di Michele, capped six times for Italy, has played for seven Italian clubs and at 32 seems an unlikely star in the making. His first goal was fortunate, the ball looping in over the head of Shay Given from a nasty deflection off Steven Taylor. His second owed more to his quick reactions. After the Italian's initial effort had been saved by Given's head, Di Michele scampered after the loose ball and beat Taylor to open up a second chance. Parker said: "As a midfielder it was particularly good playing with him [Di Michele] because it was easy to find him. He can't speak a word of English, but if he keens banging them in like he did today he can speak whatever language he likes." It-was Newcastle who looked the team with a language barrier. Their fans lapped up the sunshine and sang heartily, Chris Hughton, their caretaker manager, refused to blame the ownership crisis, but the players performed as if trapped in a corny soap opera. Hughton said that his experienced players are doing their best — "your Michael Owens, your Nicky Butts, your Shay Givens, Steve Harper, Geremi. These are experienced players who have seen mangers go and therefore become even more important in these sorts of situations." There were plenty of glimpses of Owen's class, not least in the manner in which he took his goal, but it is unlikely that he will present Fabio Capello, the England manager, with a selection dilemma while part of such a hapless club. And so, as happens every season, Newcastle pin their hopes on the cup competitions.

WATFORD : Carling Cup (Fourth Round)

08_09_23 Watford v. WHU CC

Vicarage Road

0 - 1

23rd September 2008

Att: 12,914

Referee: P. Walton

Lastuvka

Neill

Lopez

Upson

Etherington

Boa Morte (Parker)

Noble

Mullins

Faubert

Di Michele (Reid)

Sears

JAN LASTUVKA and WALTER LOPEZ both make their Hammers debut against WATFORD at Vicarage Road

Both teams have felt a sense of injustice in recent days, but it was Hayden Mullins ruing his ill-fortune last night. The midfield player saw the ball rebound off his shin into his own goal to give Watford a place in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, ending a dreadful day for West Ham United, who had learnt in the morning that they would face a substantial compensation bill from Sheffield United. While West Ham were in a state of shock after the legal verdict over the Carlos Tevez affair, Watford were still stunned by Stuart Attwell's decision to award a "phantom goal" to Reading during their 2-2 draw on Saturday. The luck of Adrian Boothroyd, the Watford manager, turned midway through the second half, however. Lee Williamson's free kick from the right wing evaded Jan Lastuvka's attempt to punch clear and the ball struck Mullins and rolled over the line. "I am thrilled with the result; we rode our luck at times," Boothroyd said. Watford's indifferent start to the season owes something to Boothroyd's decision to move away from the long-ball game. "When we get it right, it looks wonderful, but when we don't, it can look awful," he said. The Coca-Cola Championship side endured a frantic final five minutes with ten men after Jay DeMerit, the defender, hobbled off injured, with three substitutes having been used. Matthew Upson, the West Ham defender, headed on to the bar late on. Gianfranco Zola's influence was evident, with West Ham passing the ball better through midfield, but without his three main strikers, Freddie Sears struggled to adapt as a lone forward. Their best moment before Upson's header nearly forced extra time came when Scott Loach, the Watford goalkeeper, tipped over Luis Boa Morte's drive from the edge of the area "It won't change our positive attitude," Zola, the new manager, said. "To improve, we need to go through difficult times. I wanted to get angry, but they tried their best."

FULHAM : Barclays Premier League

08_09_27 Fulham v. WHU

Craven Cottage

2 - 1 (Cole, Etherington)

27th September 2008

Att: 23,946

Referee: A. Marriner

Green

Faubert

Neill

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Parker (Boa Morte)

Noble

Etherington (Mullins)

Cole

Di. Michele (Bellamy)

WEST HAM may have spent the week feeling that the whole world was against them, but it was Fulham who emerged from this encounter wondering quite how events conspired to send them to their first home defeat of the season. Superior for almost the whole of the first half, they paid a harsh price for failing to turn their dominance into goals. With Jimmy Bullard winning his midfield battle against Scott Parker while watched by England manager Fabio Capello, the platform for control was clear. Yet as chances were spurned, with Bobby Zamora as guilty as anyone, they remained open to any sucker punches West Ham might throw. The first arrived after 43 minutes as Matthew Etherington, already the focus for the crowd's anger after an incident with Fulham's Paul Konchesky, raced to the deadball line before cutting the ball back for Carlton Cole to crash a shot home from six yards. Two minutes later it was Etherington again — latching onto Mark Noble's pass to slide the ball under Mark Schwarzer and double West Ham's lead. With Craven Cottage in shock, Andy Johnson provided the icing for West Ham's cake, collecting a second yellow card on the cusp of half-time for a foul on Lucas Neill to reduce the home side to ten men. It was not a decision which went down well with Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, who said: 'I thought the dismissal was unfortunate as Johnson got caught by Neill, not vice versa. 'It was one of those really weird games, though. I've got to be satisfied with a lot of the things we did, but in three minutes everything changed. I thought we showed real character, but it was all for nothing.' An instinctive hand stuck out by Neill midway through the second half helped Fulham halve the margin as Danny Murphy converted the subsequent penalty, but their inability to turn pressure into chances put paid to their hopes of stealing a point. For Gianfranco Zola, still learning the ropes as a Premier League manager, despite having won his first two league matches, it was a day to enjoy. He said: 'We played very well. We made very few mistakes, scored goals when it mattered and the team showed great spirit.' His ideas on football management remain as positive as ever. 'The players know the football I want to play and they respond well to what I ask them to do,' he said. 'I don't mind us letting in a goal, just as long as we score two. That is the way I always like to play the game.'

IN THE NEWS - 2nd October 2008

The Carlos Tevez affair looks set to rumble on into the New Year as West Ham continue their fight against the decision. There was a further development when the Hammers who were due to submit a a claim to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) requesting them to rule on the case. And in a possible attempt to prevent paying Sheffield United a £30million package, West Ham are considering High Court action. Lord Griffiths, the 85-year-old law lord who headed the arbitration panel, has agreed to adjourn Thursday's directions hearing - aimed at laying out the timetable to decide compensation - after West Ham asked for a postponement.The hearing is expected to take place in February 2009, although it could take even longer if the case goes to the High Court or CAS.

BOLTON WANDERERS : Barclays Premier League

08_10_05 WHU v. Bolton Wanderers

Upton Park

1 - 3 (Cole)

5th October 2008

Att: 33,715

Referee: M. Dean

Green

Faubert

Neill

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Parker

Noble

Di Michele (Bellamy)

Etherington (Sears)

Cole

Goalkeeper Robert Green may have taken most of the flak for this disappointing home defeat, but the team really must take collective responsibility for what was a dismal performance. Manager Gianfranco Zola pointed to Green's mistake as the turning point of the match, and he was right, but there were already plenty of things for West Ham to worry about before that. "The positive thing was that until the goal we were in complete control of the game, we were doing what we were supposed to do," insisted Zola. That was not quite right. West Ham certainly had plenty of possession, but against a solid, determined Bolton side, they rarely looked like breaking them down. David Di Michele had just one shot to show for his insipid 53 minutes on the field; Matty Etherington drifted inside and out again, but never showed Bolton his pace or crossing ability, while Carlton Cole was largely shackled by Gary Cahill at the back. Only when full-back Herita Ilunga went on the offensive did West Ham look like making an impact, but though he was able to get into the box, there was no-one to finish off his hard work. Cole had a shot just over the bar, while Julien Faubert forced a low save from Jussi Jaaskelainen with a free kick and Di Michele's effort slipped just wide after a fine break by Mark Noble and Scott Parker.But the warning signs were already evident at the other end. Johan Elmander should have done better than shoot straight at Green after Ricardo Gardner had slipped the ball through to him, while four consecutive Bolton corners put West Ham under pressure. No-one was quite prepared for the four-minute spell around the half hour mark though. First, Jlloyd Samuel's deep cross looked meat and drink for Green only for the England goalkeeper to inexplicably drop the ball at Kevin Davies' feet, and the striker did the rest. Three minutes later, a Bolton free kick was headed out by Matty Upson to Gretar Steinsson whose thumping shot was only pushed straight out by Green and Cahill was first to react and force in the rebound. Three minutes of football, two goals and the game looked all over bar the shouting. Liverpool may have come from two down at Manchester City to win, but this West Ham side simply did not look capable of doing the same. It was shock more than surprise for the West Ham fans, and any hope of a big comeback after the break was hampered by some dreadful passing and the inability to hold on to the ball when they had it. West Ham finally hauled themselves back into the game on 68 minutes. Etherington's corner was met by Upson's head and Cole quickly stole in to nod the ball in from close range. Freddie Sears came on to play alongside Cole and Craig Bellamy in a three-pronged attack, but in truth they rarely looked like breaking the Bolton shackles. Behrami had a shot from the edge of the box after good work by Bellamy, which he dragged wide, but it was Bolton who had the last laugh when substitute Matt Taylor caught Green and the West Ham defence unawares to thump in a 30-yard free kick and made it 3-1. "Sometimes games like this can make you take one step back in order to take two steps forward, so that is what we are hoping for." That is what West Ham fans are hoping for too, but there are quite a few little problems that Zola will have to deal with sooner rather than later. Faubert was simply awful at right back, Lucas Neill is still a worry at centre half, while Di Michele still looks unfit and out of touch. There is no need to panic, the manager will be only too aware of some of the failings in the squad, and that will not be sorted simply by enthusiasm, but by hard work on the training ground and maybe some tough decisions over selection. One thing is for sure. With matches against Arsenal and Manchester United on the horizon, he will want to solve those problems sooner rather than later.

IN THE NEWS - 7th October 2008

West Ham shiver as bitter chill of credit crisis wings in from Iceland

Fears grew last night that West Ham United are on the brink of a financial crisis after Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the West Ham United owner, was dragged into the global credit crisis. The collapse of Landsbanki, the Icelandic bank of which Gudmundsson was chairman and a major shareholder, raised fears that he would need to sell the club. While shares of the bank are suspended after it was nationalised yesterday, Gudmundsson's stake in it is notionally worthless. Gudmundsson has said that there are no plans to sell the Barclays Premier League club, but he could not rule out the possibility if his other investments are affected by the turmoil in the markets. He has refused to consider interest from at least one serious potential buyer in recent weeks, but is bound to find more vultures circling over the coming days. The club are worth nearly three times the £85 million that he paid two years ago -taking on £20 million in debt — since when he has injected £30 million. Asgeir Fridgeirsson, the West Ham vice-chairman, said that Gudmundsson's ownership of the club is a personal investment not linked to Landsbanki and that his wealth is built on a diverse portfolio that includes construction, brewing, shipping, seafood production, property and media investments. The portfolio was estimated to be worth more than £1 billion last week, but considerably less after the plunge in share prices this week. "It is, of course, a blow for him and his financial strength, but he has a number of other investments that are doing quite well at the moment, so there is no reason to fear that he will not honour his commitment to West Ham," Fridgeirsson said yesterday. "I don't think there's any reason to be too pessimistic. West Ham is a wonderful club and a well-run company. "At the moment, we are not actively in the process of selling the club and as it stands there is not a need to do so. We haven't accepted any bids. There have been agents all around trying to get our attention, but we have turned them away. Gudmundsson is not going to take money out of the club but on the other hand these events have limited his options for further investment this year." Gianfranco Zola has been told that he will not receive transfer funds in January and the West Ham manager will have to trim the squad of 34 by about ten players to raise money for signings. "Our manager feels it is not necessary for it to be of that size," Fridgeirsson said. "The club is standing strong. It is generating revenues." Gudmundsson faces the further uncertainty of West Ham potentially paying' compensation to Sheffield United after the independent tribunal hearing over the Carlos Tevez affair, and he and his son, a billionaire, recently invested £150 million to honour a loan owed by XL, the travel company and West Ham's shirt sponsor, after its collapse. XL also owed £2 million to the club, who have not signed a replacement sponsor. There was a boost for West Ham's bid to overturn the decision to award Sheffield United compensation after their relegation from the Premier League two seasons ago. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has opened the door to it hearing the dispute by asking Sheffield United to consent to its jurisdiction or provide written reasons against it by Friday. West Ham are encouraged by the request because the court in Lausanne has, in other cases, immediately ruled out its power to adjudicate. West Ham were ordered to pay compensation to the Yorkshire club, who have estimated that relegation cost them £30 million in income. The arbitration panel has adjourned its deliberation on the amount of compensation until December, but assessing it could take months. West Ham have argued that Sheffield United must validate the money that they lost. West Ham are also exploring the possibility of an appeal to the High Court and making representations to Fifa.

West Ham United statement

The CEO has clarified the situation regarding Bjorgolfur Gudmunndsson's ownership of West Ham United

West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury has issued the following statement following the news that Iceland bank Landsbanki has been placed into receivership. Scott Duxbury said: "The position of Landsbanki has absolutely no effect on West Ham United and Mr Gudmundsson's ownership of the club. "Mr Gudmundsson is an investor with a large portfolio, of which Landsbanki was just part. He remains as committed as ever to West Ham United and is not looking to sell the club." "As has previously been stated, Mr Gudmundsson has invested £40m net in the playing squad to create a squad capable of challenging in the top half of the Premier League. "Since his appointment, Gianfranco Zola has made it quite clear that his first-team squad is too large and needs to be reduced so he can effectively coach the team. Once this has happened and if the manager requires further players, then the club will acquire them. "Mr Gudmundsson remains fully committed to the success of this football club

HULL CITY : Barclays Premier League

08_10_19 Hull City v. WHU

Kingston Comms Stadium

0 - 1

19th October 2008

Att: 24,896

Referee: C. Foy

Green

Faubert (Di Michele)

Neill

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Parker

Noble

Etherington (Sears)

Bellamy

Cole

THE most famous musical export from Hull are the Housemartins, a band who sometimes walked on to the stage wearing their amber and black club shirts. Back in 1986 they released an album London 0 Hull 4. And yesterday, courtesy of a cracking header from Michael Turner, this remarkable team made that prediction come true. After beating Fulham, then completing stunning wins at Arsenal and Tottenham, Phil Brown's new boys heaped more capital punishment on the Hammers. Any Tigers fans who are today at work looking a bit dazed and confused have every right to be. In something of a Premier League first, this game was delayed by 24 hours due to the presence of the Hull Pleasure Fair - Europe's biggest. Yet as the convoy of caravans and trucks left the patch of land behind the KC Stadium yesterday afternoon, the best ride in town just kept on going. Only this one doesn't make Hull fans want to throw up. Exactly a decade ago, to this very day, they were the 92nd team in the League. Their manager Mark Hateley was struggling, the players were even worse and the ground was a tip. Relegation to the Conference was on the cards. No fans here with their marbles intact will tell you they have a genuine hope of finishing in a Champions League spot. But with the passing of each game, and the collection of another three points, top-flight football at this gleaming stadium next season looks a certainty. There were no wonder strikes from Geovanni. Only a powerful finish from Turner a lad who, ironically, hails from London. West Ham played the better football in the first half yet failed to make the most of a couple of decent chances and then backed off   when Hull I got in their faces. Obviously, recent results have helped, yet Brown's team are playing with a confidence you rarely see from promoted teams. Even as things were not clicking, there was no panic. A few minor adjustments and away they went. To have 17points after eight games is a terrific achievement and there is still something satishying to once again see Hull above both Arsenal and Manchester United in the table. Herita Ilunga thought he had put them ahead when he flicked the ball away from Hull keeper Bo Myhill before scoring with a spectacular overhead kick. Myhill had released the ball from his hand and was about to give it the boot, yet Ilunga not only had his clever effort harshly scrubbed out but was also booked for dangerous play. In some respects Ilunga was then fortunate as be went through tbe back of Dean Maraey with a sliding tackle but ref Chris Foy failed to show a second yellow. The visitors attempted to use Craig Bellamy as much as possible and seconds before half-time he blazed wide. Still not match-fit, Bellamy gradually faded. Hull had offered little in the opening half — yet six minutes after the restart they moved in an aerial challenge and steered the ball past Robert Green. West Ham should have equalised seconds later when Carlton Cole hit the bar. You waited for a West Ham onslaught but it never really came with Hull fans wishing they could play a London team every week

ARSENAL : Barclays Premier League

08_10_26 WHU v. Arsenal

Upton Park

0 - 2

26th October 2008

Att: 34,802

Referee: P. Dowd

Green

Faubert

Collins

Ilunga

Mullins

Parker (Boa Morte)

Bowyer (Sears)

Di Michele (Etherington)

Bellamy

Cole

Arsenal capitalised on a poor weekend for title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United to secure maximum points from a hard-fought win at West Ham. Following Liverpool's victory at Stamford Bridge earlier on Sunday afternoon, and United's failure to beat Everton, Arsene Wenger's side knew just what was at stake as they looked to keep pace with the Barclays Premier League leaders. The Gunners - fresh from a fine 5-2 Champions League trashing of Fenerbahce in Turkey - certainly had to dig deep for their win, which came courtesy of an own goal from Julien Faubert when he deflected a shot from substitute Emmanuel Adebayor late in the second half, which was harsh on inspired West Ham keeper Robert Green, before the African wrapped things up in stoppage time. Nevertheless, it is these such keenly-contested clashes which Wenger's young squad will have to come through if they are to have a say in the destiny of the title come May - and on Sunday's evidence, they could still just have the final word.   Arsenal were led once more by captain William Gallas, fit again following a thigh problem. However, both he and fellow France veteran Mikael Silvestre were given plenty to concern themselves during the opening stages by a busy West Ham frontline. After 10 minutes, it needed a fine tip over from Manuel Almunia to deny the lively David di Michele, who powered in a 20-yard drive which looked set for the top right-hand corner. Arsenal were being out-manoeuvred in midfield, were Alexander Song, pushed forwards from defence, and Spanish maestro Cesc Fabregas were yet to strike up an understanding. Winger Theo Walcott had been anonymous, but burst into the game on 20 minutes. The England man turned his marker just inside the West Ham half before scampering away towards goal down the right. After riding two challenges on the edge of the box, he darted inside and unleashed a fierce drive which cannoned off the top of Green's crossbar. West Ham - who were out to avoid a third straight league defeat - needed something to relieve the pressure as the half-hour mark approached. It came following a quick break when Craig Bellamy chased down a long ball ahead of Silvestre. The Wales striker drilled in a low, first-time effort from the edge of the penalty area - which Almunia deflected over with his legs. Bendtner chased what looked a lost cause on the left, before cutting inside to force another fine save from Green at full stretch. After a low-key start to the second half, the visitors again maintained a spell of patient build-up. It was almost rewarded when Samir Nasri picked out Walcott on the right, and his low centre was put up over his own bar by the back-tracking James Collins. The West Ham defender then made a timely intervention to out-muscle van Persie as the Dutchman looked to get on the end of a long ball into the penalty area. As the hour mark passed, Bellamy got in down the West Ham left - but Gallas was on hand to scramble the loose ball away. Arsenal went close again when first Collins blocked Walcott's angled effort and then Van Persie's follow-up flew through a crowded six-yard box and hit Lee Bowyer. With 25 minutes left, Wenger made a double change as Adebayor and Abou Diaby - who had played so well in Turkey - were introduced, replacing Nasri and Walcott. Green was having an inspired afternoon and made another fine one-handed save to keep out Van Persie's low, angled drive. When the England stopper was finally beaten by a stinging 25-yard free-kick from the Dutchman, his luck held as the ball cannoned off the base of the post and bounced away. Arsenal, though, finally got the breakthrough with quarter of an hour to go when Adebayor weaved his way into the area and hit a low shot back across goal. With Bendtner lurking in the six-yard box, the unfortunate Faubert stuck out a boot which diverted the ball past Green. Adebayor should then have done better when following up his own shot, only to stab over from close range. The Togo frontman eventually made sure of what could yet prove to be three vital points in an intriguing title race when he latched on to a long pass up field from Bendtner to round Green and smash the ball into an empty net. To compound the misery for West Ham, referee Phil Dowd showed striker Carlton Cole what seemed a somewhat harsh straight red card for a sliding tackle from behind on Song.

MANCHESTER UNITED : Barclays Premier League

08_10_29 Manchester United v. WHU

Old Trafford

0 - 2

29th October 2008

Att: 75,397

Referee: P. Walton

Green

Faubert

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami (Boa Morte)

Bowyer (Sears)

Mullins

Etherington (Collison)

Di. Michele

Bellamy

Newly-crowned FIFPro world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo offered an immediate reply to Sir Alex Ferguson's challenge to score 25 goals this season with a first-half double to sink West Ham. Ronaldo took his tally for the campaign to five, first profiting from Nani's precise cross before tapping home from two yards, an effort that owed everything to the genius of Dimitar Berbatov. Manchester United could have had more, with Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney both going close. But after Saturday's slip-up at Everton, the three points were all Sir Alex Ferguson wanted as his side look to keep current pacesetters Liverpool in view. In leaving out Rooney, Ferguson was omitting a man, one visit to Everton apart, at the top of his game. The need to give Tevez a chance after sitting on the sidelines for virtually a month, was obvious. Some fans, though, questioned why Rooney was the man sacrificed. Others wonder why Berbatov was bought at all given last year's strikeforce proved to be a devastating combination at home and abroad. Berbatov has tried to answer the doubters with a flurry of goals and eye-catching assists. But none came close to his contribution after half an hour. James Collins must have thought he was in control as he shadowed Berbatov to the by-line as the pair chased Anderson's pass. But the young Wales international was in for a shock. With a pirouette any ballet dancer would have been proud of, Berbatov turned, rolled the ball beyond Collins and was gone, hugging the white line before presenting Ronaldo with a tap-in. Even Collins must have felt like applauding. Having faced Arsenal at Upton Park on Sunday, Gianfranco Zola is quickly discovering management is not quite as easy as he found being a player. In his programme notes, Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the Italian maestro as his favourite overseas star, some accolade given the brilliance that has walked through Old Trafford's doors alone. If only Zola had someone with his instinctive brain and silky touch at West Ham. Almost daily his players are being linked with moves elsewhere. England defender Matthew Upson is among that number, deservedly so judging by the way he threw his body in the way of so many United chances. Berbatov, Ronaldo and star man Nani were all denied by the centre-half. There was nothing Upson could do to deny Ronaldo his opener though, the Portugal superstar crashing home from eight yards after one of Nani's pinpoint crosses had rolled into his path. Tevez was eager to make an impression and he would have scored if his header from Patrice Evra's cross had been a foot either side of Robert Green rather than straight at him. Any faint hopes of a West Ham revival were dealt a grievous blow just before the break when Valon Behrami went down in agony with no-one near him. The immediate fear was a serious knee injury and the Swiss was in obvious pain as he left the field on a stretcher. Zola might have been getting some much-needed advice as he strolled down the touchline in earnest conversation with Ferguson as the pair made their way to the dugouts. But the second period just brought more worries for the newly-installed Hammers chief. Tevez might have had a penalty when he was hauled down by Herita Ilunga before Nani's rushed his shot when Berbatov laid a neat pass and smashed it over. The introduction of Rooney and, for only his third appearance of the season, Michael Carrick merely illustrated the difference in standards Zola must now try to overcome. Rooney had gone for the bald look again and a delicate chip straight after his arrival might have shaved the crossbar if Robert Green had not touched it over. There was nothing delicate about Rooney's next effort, a thunderous shot from 30 yards that Green was forced to beat away. The keeper might have expected to work harder when Patrice Evra set up Ronaldo but with a hat-trick beckoning, the winger's shot was disappointing. Not as disappointing as the volley Craig Bellamy fired into the stands though which must have made Zola wish he could pull his boots back on.

IN THE NEWS - 29th October 2008

Hammers to fight Curbishley claim

West Ham have told Alan Curbishley they intend to fight his claim for compensation following his resignation in September, BBC Sport understands. Curbishley has written to the Hammers informing them he intends to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal. The club has responded by telling Curbishley he waived any right to compensation when he resigned. Curbishley argues the club broke a clause in his contract guaranteeing him a say in all transfer dealings. The former Charlton boss says this was not the case during his final months at Upton Park, when he argues the club sold defenders Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney against his wishes. This prompted the 50-year-old to quit his role with Italian Gianfranco Zola replacing him at Upton Park.

MIDDLESBROUGH : Barclays Premier League

08_11_01 Middlesbrough v. WHU Issue 1 08_11_01 Middlesbrough v. WHU Issue 2

Riverside Stadium

1 - 1 (Mullins)

1st November 2008

Att: 25,164

Referee: A. Marriner

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Faubert

Collison

Mullins

Boa Morte (Bowyer)

Bellamy

Sears (Etherington)

Mido came off the bench to help sluggish Middlesbrough claim a share of the points from their Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham. The visitors had dominated large periods of the game with some enterprising play and had taken a deserved lead in the 21st minute when Hayden Mullins volleyed home. But second-half substitute Mido, a replacement for the lacklustre Afonso Alves, smashed a 83rd-minute free-kick past Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green. Boro manager Gareth Southgate named an unchanged team for the third consecutive match while West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola made four changes from the side which lost 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Captain Lucas Neill was restored after he overcame a recent virus and Zola also gave Jack Collison a midfield berth while Luis Boa Morte and Freddie Sears were included. Middlesbrough started positively and Stewart Downing delivered a high ball into the area in the fifth minute but Neill was able to clear the danger. The lively Sears robbed Boro defender Andrew Taylor of the possession in the ninth minute and ran towards goal, but he could only screw his shot wide from a good position. Zola's side looked dangerous on the counter-attack and two minutes later Julien Faubert broke down the right flank and slid a low ball into the box, but Chris Riggott read the situation and intercepted before Sears could get a touch. West Ham took a warranted lead in the 21st minute after Boa Morte broke down the left and fed the ball to Mullins who miss-hit his first attempt at goal. But the ball sat up and he made no mistake with his second effort to smash a volley past Boro goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and into the top-right corner of the net from 10 yards out. Riggott was booked for a handball in the 33rd minute and Craig Bellamy whipped the ball into the penalty area from the resulting free-kick but Wheater was able to head the ball clear. The Hammers continued to look dangerous on the break with the pace of Sears and Bellamy always looking a threat. Mullins almost added a second in the 40th minute when he lashed a long-range shot at goal which Turnbull watched fly just over the bar. West Ham goalkeeper Green was forced to make his first real save moments before the interval when he tipped over a cross-shot from Downing. Southgate replaced Wheater with Justin Hoyte after the half-time break to try to deal with the pace of the impressive Boa Morte. A tremendous piece of play in the 52nd minute almost saw Zola's side double their advantage. After neat build-up play, Bellamy was picked out by a deep cross to the right edge of the penalty area and his cushioned header dropped into the path of Collison. The 20-year-old midfielder drove into the box but could only strike his shot from near the penalty spot at Turnbull who had rushed off his line. Downing had been the home side's most effective player and his run in the 63rd minute culminated in a superb cross-field pass with the outside of his boot to set up a good chance for Gary O'Neil. Green, though, was equal to O'Neil's shot and parried the ball to safety before Southgate made his third change of the afternoon when he brought on Mido for Alves. A sluggish Boro finally came to life with 20 minutes left and had the ball in the net in the 79th minute through Hoyte. Taylor delivered the ball into the penalty area and Hoyte sprinted into the six-yard box to head the ball past Green but the assistant referee raised his flag to rule it out for offside. Boro equalised in the 83rd minute when James Collins tugged Mido on the edge of the penalty area as he attempted to win a header. The Egyptian took the resulting free-kick and drilled a low shot past the wall and into the bottom-right corner of the net. Mido then broke down the left edge of the box three minutes later and forced Green to make a smart save with a snap shot. Turnbull made a superb, close-range double save in injury-time from Collison and Lee Bowyer.

EVERTON : Barclays Premier League

08_11_08 WHU v. Everton

Upton Park

1 - 3 (Collison)

8th November 2008

Att: 33,961

Referee: M. Halsey

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson (Collison)

Ilunga

Faubert

Parker (Di Michele)

Bowyer

Sears

Bellamy

Boa Morte (Etherington)

Everton produced a stunning fightback to crush West Ham with three goals in an amazing five-minute spell at Upton Park. West Ham looked to be cruising to all three points when substitute Jack Collison scored on his home debut in the 53rd minute. But an equaliser from Joleon Lescott in the 83rd minute was followed by a superb double from Louis Saha, who scored in the 85th and 87th minutes to crown an amazing late revival from the Toffees. Saha had almost gave the visitors the lead in the opening minute but his right-footed volley flashed just wide of Robert Green's left-hand upright. But the home side responded immediately with Scott Parker bursting through the midfield before unleashing a low 20-yard drive which Tim Howard pushed wide. But the early exchanges proved to be a false dawn with precious little excitement to warm the crowd on a wet afternoon. The home side were dealt a blow after 15 minutes when defender Matthew Upson was taken off on a stretcher with an ankle injury, to be replaced by Collison. In the 19th minute Green had to be alert to deal with a low cross from Everton captain Phil Neville. Moments later Freddie Sears almost carved out an opening at the opposite end but the young West Ham striker lost control of the ball at the vital moment. West Ham defender Herita Ilunga wrestled Victor Anichebe to the ground in the 22nd minute but Mikel Arteta's free-kick from the right flank was easily dealt with. A counter-attack by the home side seconds later saw Sears put Craig Bellamy clear but the West Ham striker saw his shot deflected for a corner. The game continue to ebb and flow and Jack Rodwell tried his luck for the visitors in the 23rd minute but his shot rolled harmlessly into the hands of the waiting Green. Most of West Ham's best moves were inspired by the hard-working Parker but they lacked a killer instinct in attack. Both Bellamy and Sears had plenty of the ball and when they combined again in the 28th minute, West Ham should have taken the lead. Sears crossed from the left wing and when Everton's defence only half-cleared the ball, Bellamy sent his 18-yard volley high into the crowd. The pair were beginning to form a vibrant partnership for the home side and with a bigger slice of luck, Sears would have opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Bellamy cleverly left Joseph Yobo floundering with a neat dummy on the left edge of the penalty area before delivering the perfect low pass for the onrushing Sears. However, Sears opted for power over placement and although his shot beat Howard it cannoned off the crossbar. With two minutes of the first half remaining, Leon Osman was presented with a clear shot at goal from 20 yards but the Everton midfielder could not hit the target. In the 56th minute, Jack Rodwell went close for Everton when he hooked his effort just wide of the upright from close range. Moments later West Ham replaced Luis Boa Morte with winger Matthew Etherington in a bid to give the home side more thrust in attack. In the 59th minute, the rampaging Bellamy was fouled on the edge of the penalty area by Neville as West Ham increased the tempo of the game. However, Bellamy's subsequent free-kick was charged down by Everton's defensive wall. But West Ham did break the deadlock in the 63rd minute through substitute Collison. The goal was superbly set-up by a brilliant piece of individual skill from Parker who backheeled the ball into the path of the home debutant. With Everton's defence completely wrong-footed by Parker's brilliance, Collison took his time to curl the ball into the top corner. It was a memorable goal for the youngster who had never played at home for the first team until Upson's first-half injury presented him with the opportunity. The home side seemed to be in full control and were threatening to increase their advantage, with the pace of Sears and Bellamy a constant threat to the visitors. But Everton conjured up an amazing fightback in the last 10 minutes when Lescott planted a firm header beyond Green for the leveller in the 83rd minute. Worse was to follow for West Ham when a cross from Anichebe was fired home by Saha, with a slight deflection on his shot taking the ball past Green. The former Manchester United striker then repeated the feat, with a powerful low 20-yard shot bouncing past Green in the 87th minute to leave West Ham floored.

PORTSMOUTH : Barclays Premier League

08_11_15 WHU v. Portsmouth

Upton Park

0 - 0

15th November 2008

Att: 32,328

Referee: M. Atkinson

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Parker (Mullins)

Collison

Sears (Etherington)

Cole

Bellamy

Zola, who saw home fans walking out long before the end. West Ham bungled their chance to end a six-match run without a win with a sloppy first-half attitude which allowed Pompey to take a grip on the game. And even though Pompey boss Tony Adams would have been devastated at the sight of Lassana Diarra limping out of the contest early on, he would otherwise have been delighted with a game which saw the best chances fall to former Hammers striker Jermain Defoe.   Portsmouth had to start without the injured Sol Campbell and Niko Kranjcar, who pulled out with a foot problem just before the start. But a midfield reshuffle, pulling Papa Bouba Diop in from the right and switching Nadir Belhadj from the left showed no sign of interrupting their rhythm in the first half, despite Diarra limping off after a challenge by Scott Parker. Defoe's appearance was greeted with a chorus of boos - he demanded a transfer just a day after West Ham were relegated in 2003 - but home fans gave David James, who left them six months later, a much milder reception. West Ham's early pressure briefly pushed Pompey back and the visitors had a big escape when Freddie Sears' cross clearly struck Sylvain Distin on the arm, only for the well-placed referee Martin Atkinson to wave play on. Within a minute West Ham's Herita Ilunga picked up possession on the left and curled in a lovely cross which the unmarked Cole just could not reach six yards out. Pompey could have taken the lead in the 10th minute when Glen Johnson capped a penetrating run on the right by slipping a ball into the box for Defoe, who just got to it before goalkeeper Robert Green but could only hook it over the bar. Pompey pushed forward for a spell and Green was required to make a good save to deny another impressive run and shot from Johnson. Defoe then challenged for Diop's through ball which spun away into the path of Crouch, who looked certain to score until Ilunga's challenge did just enough to put him off. Zola brought on Matthew Etherington and Julien Faubert early in the second half but they were lucky not to be out of the game after two sublime moments by Defoe. In the 48th minute he took Traore's pass, left Lucas Neill trailing and fired a shot which forced Green into a brilliant save. Two minutes later he pulled a long clearance out of the sky with a fine first touch, shrugged off Matthew Upson and almost lobbed Green only for the goalkeeper to tip over the bar. Pamarot gave away a soft free-kick on the edge of the area but Bellamy's set-piece clattered back off the bar and James had to smother Jack Collison's follow up for his first real save in the 53rd minute. James was not troubled by tame efforts from Bellamy and Cole soon afterwards but the Hammers were seeing more and more of the ball and Pompey boss Adams brought on Kanu for the ineffective Crouch to try to turn the tide. The Nigerian nearly made all the difference, his clever ball setting up Defoe for another chance but this time, though he side-stepped Upson, his angle was too tight and Green again made the block.

SUNDERLAND : Barclays Premier League

08_11_23 Sunderland v. WHU

Stadium of Light

1 - 0 (Behrami)

23rd November 2008

Att: 35,222

Referee: M. Dean

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Faubert (Boa Morte)

Parker

Bowyer (Mullins)

Behrami

Bellamy (Di Michele)

Cole

Valon Behrami handed Gianfranco Zola a first Barclays Premier League victory in eight attempts as Sunderland suffered a third successive home defeat. The Switzerland international fired his side ahead with 20 minutes gone and could have made what followed far more comfortable had he not shot against the crossbar from just six yards on the stroke of half-time. But in the end, his contribution proved enough to win a game which the home side dominated for long periods, but failed to make the most of the chances they created. The Hammers had to defend for long periods, but in Matthew Upson and James Collins, had willing workhorses, while former Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy was at his irritating best in front of a disgruntled crowd of 35,222. Keane has seen and done most things in football, and little surprises him any longer. However, he headed for the dressing room at half-time having seen his side create more than enough chances to win the game, but lucky still to be in it. With recalled midfielder Andy Reid tormenting the Hammers down the left to provide a series of inviting cross for Cisse, it seemed only a matter of time before the home side took the lead. Cisse sent one header just over and another narrowly wide, and then drilled a right-foot shot into the side-netting. Reid landed a curling shot on top of Green's crossbar and Danny Collins forced a good save from the keeper four minutes before the break, and there was fury inside the Stadium of Light went Cisse went down on the edge of the box under James Collins' challenge and referee Mike Dean waved away his penalty appeals. But in the meantime, Zola's men had taken the lead against the run of play. Reid was penalised for a foul on Lucas Neill wide on the right, and although Nyron Nosworthy cleared Julien Faubert's free-kick, Behrami picked up the rebound and drilled a low shot past Marton Fulop with the help of a deflection off Kenwyne Jones. Chances were few for the Londoners, but they should really have been 2-0 up in first-half injury-time after former Hammer Anton Ferdinand was left red-faced. The defender attempted to control a high ball on halfway when he should really have headed it and succeeded only in giving it to Bellamy. The Welsh international striker sprinted into the box and although he was forced wide as he attempted to round Fulop, he managed to square to Behrami on the edge of the six-yard box - only for the midfielder to fire against the bar. Keane's side returned determined to make the most of their escape, and they were appealing for a penalty again within two minutes when Cisse smashed the ball against Upson's arm from point-blank range - although Dean turned them down. The Frenchman was finding space with ease and headed wide once again from Phil Bardsley's 49th-minute cross, and Green was relieved not to be punished for losing out in an aerial battle with Jones five minutes later. Having spent 10 minutes pinned back inside their own half, the Hammers eventually fought their way into enemy territory and went close to a second goal with 56 minutes gone when Lee Bowyer headed just over. The former Magpie was in on goal again on the hour when he ran on to Behrami's pass, but Fulop smothered his cross with the blue shirts gathering. Dean Whitehead forced a smart save from Green with a glancing 84th-minute header, but Sunderland's fightback simply dwindled away to nothing.

LIVERPOOL : Barclays Premier League

08_12_01 Liverpool v. WHU

Anfield

0 - 0

1st December 2008

Att: 41,169

Referee: P. Walton

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Faubert (Boa Morte)

Parker

Mullins

Behrami

Bellamy

Cole

Liverpool again wasted a chance to take a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League as brave West Ham produced a minor miracle of their own at Anfield. It is 45 years since they have won at this stadium, so this first point in nine years at Liverpool was a fine achievement. West Ham have never been known for their defensive reliability at Liverpool, but they were magnificent as they stretched an unbeaten run to three games. At the back goalkeeper Robert Green, England defender Matthew Upson and Welshman James Collins stood defiant. And another Welshman, former Liverpool man Craig Bellamy, came close to breaking the deadlock with a 30-yard shot which crashed against a post. Liverpool are back on top of the table, but by only one point, and this disappointing display follows hot on the heels of an identical result achieved by Fulham here in the previous home league game. The Reds dominated, but West Ham repelled the waves of attacks as they grabbed a crucial point in their own battle for survival. Liverpool called in veteran defender Sami Hyypia and former West Ham winger Yossi Benayoun, keen to take advantage of Chelsea's defeat by Arsenal 24 hours earlier. Robbie Keane and Andrea Dossena replaced the injured pair of Fernando Torres and Fabio Aurelio, with Daniel Agger and Javier Mascherano rested to the bench. West Ham, without a win at Anfield since 1963, brought in Hayden Mullins in midfield for ankle injury victim Lee Bowyer, in the only change from the side that won at Sunderland last time out. Mark Noble returned to the Hammers bench after a knee injury, while Diego Tristan made his first appearance in the squad since he joined on trial two months ago. Liverpool had two early penalty appeals turned down by referee Peter Walton when both Benayoun and then Dirk Kuyt drove the ball at Herita Ilunga from close range. West Ham had looked nervy, and after 14 minutes Green raced from his line to punch weakly away. The ball fell to Albert Riera whose shot was blocked in the six-yard box by James Collins. Then from a right-wing corner, Hyypia rose to head narrowly over the bar. The Liverpool pressure increased and Mullins was booked after 19 minutes when he tripped Benayoun in full flow. Two minutes later another header from Hyypia was kicked off the line by Ilunga. West Ham's only shot until this point had been a weak long-range effort from Julien Faubert, scooped up by Jose Reina. But Liverpool kept plugging away, showing the sort of patience in such situations that Benitez called for after the stalemate against Fulham nine days earlier.Steven Gerrard worked his way in from the right and fired into the sidenetting, before Bellamy - on his return to Anfield after moving to West Ham 17 months ago - almost broke the deadlock. Bellamy picked up possession and unleashed a fine, swerving drive which crashed against Reina's right-hand post and bounced across goal to safety. Then Green made a fine point-blank save from Kuyt's header following Xabi Alonso's corner, two minutes from the break. Kuyt and Keane both saw shots go wide as Liverpool opened the second half on the attack. But Bellamy was still a danger for West Ham, and after running past Hyypia he was body-checked by Alonso, the Spaniard being booked. Then Green produced a stunning save to turn over a Benayoun drive, before Alonso volleyed fiercely over from a squared Gerrard free-kick. West Ham fancied their chances, breaking out of defence after 67 minutes and winning a corner. And when Bellamy curled it towards the near post, Carlton Cole headed inches wide. Liverpool then sent on Ryan Babel for Riera after 78 minutes, with West Ham by that stage hanging on as the pressure mounted. Hyypia headed just wide from a Gerrard corner, the Kop behind Green's goal demanding that Liverpool attack more. West Ham sent on Luis Boa Morte for Faubert with six minutes left. Green then produced another fine save from a close-range Kuyt effort following Gerrard's deep cross. Bellamy and Parker created a chance for Boa Morte on the break, but he sliced his effort wide. Babel then broke to see a shot deflected over.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : Barclays Premier League

08_12_08 WHU v. Tottenham Hotspur

Upton Park

0 - 2

8th December 2008

Att: 34,277

Referee: C. Foy

Green

Neill

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Mullins (Di Michele)

Parker (Tristan)

Faubert (Noble)

Cole

Bellamy

Ledley King scored his first goal in three years as Tottenham continued their revival under Harry Redknapp with victory at Upton Park. King, whose last goal came on December 12, 2005 in a 3-1 win over Portsmouth, met a cross from the electric Aaron Lennon and powered his downward header past Robert Green. Spurs wrapped up victory in the last minute with a long-range strike from Jamie O'Hara that takes them above West Ham in the Barclays Premier League on goal difference. Tottenham's win ended Green's run of three clean sheets but ensured another successful return to Upton Park for Redknapp, who was West Ham boss between 1994 and 2001 and has never lost on his old stamping ground as a visiting manager. Croatian midfielder Luka Modric returned to the Spurs side after recovering from a groin injury. Lennon's cross found David Bentley at the far post on the edge of the box but the shot was tame and did not stretch Green. Craig Bellamy was in a fiery mood. He took exception to a hefty challenge from Didier Zokora and the pair exchanged words and the odd shove before referee Chris Foy intervened with a word of warning. West Ham edged the first-half possession with Scott Parker busy in midfield and Bellamy energetic up front and at the heart of the Hammers' best attacking moments. He linked well with Carlton Cole, Valon Behrami and Hayden Mullins but for all their possession, West Ham could not open Tottenham up as their problems up front continue. They have now scored just once in four Premier League games. West Ham did have the ball in the net after 22 minutes, when Jenas turned Bellamy's corner past his own keeper, but it was scratched off because Lucas Neill was climbing all over the Tottenham midfielder. Behrami then latched onto Carlton Cole's lay-off and closed in on the box, only to be hauled down from behind in an ungainly fashion by Bentley. The free-kick was teed up for James Collins whose low strike was deflected wide for another corner, which this time Heurelho Gomes punched confidently away. Bellamy then saw his shot blocked on the edge of the area before he pulled another across goal and wide of Gomes' right post. West Ham may have enjoyed the better of possession but Spurs had their moments. Modric's tricky run was halted by a determined challenge from James Collins and Lennon's deep cross found Bentley at the far post but his header did not test Green. Spurs upped the tempo just before half-time and were unfortunate not to go ahead after working two chances in as many minutes. Neill's clearing header fell straight to Bentley, who caught the half-volley clean and true but was denied by a brilliant diving save from Green, who punched the ball clear for a throw-in. Spurs kept the pressure on and Roman Pavlyuchenko stretched to meet a low cross from Lennon at the far post but he could only push the ball onto the post. Spurs continued to turn the screw after the interval as West Ham struggled to keep pace with the tempo. Lennon, their most dangerous attacking weapon, broke clear but was tracked all the way by Parker who pulled off a perfectly-timed challenge just as the Spurs winger prepared to shoot. Redknapp made his first change just 10 minutes into the second half and Darren Bent, replacing Pavlyuchenko, brought a new dimension to their attack. Spurs had a strong claims for a penalty when Ilunga raised his arms to block Vedran Corluka's cross but their appeals were waved away. Modric, Jenas and Lennon opened West Ham up with slick one-touch football but Bent, who had escaped Collins in the box, turned his shot wide before Zokora saw his low drive blocked by Green. But Tottenham's pressure told and it was Lennon who engineered the breakthrough with a delightful cross for King to power a downward header past the keeper's despairing dive. Zola sent on David di Michele and Diego Tristan in search of an equaliser and it almost paid off as the Hammers threw everything forward. Di Michele tried to squeeze space at the near post but was closed out and then West Ham were denied by a point-blank save from Gomes to deny the Italian after the ball had ping-ponged around the Spurs area. And as West Ham fans stood head in hands, Spurs broke straight down field and O'Hara sealed with victory with a long-range strike.

CHELSEA : Barclays Premier League

08_12_14 Chelsea v. WHU

Stamford Bridge

1 - 1 (Bellamy)

14th December 2008

Att: 41,675

Referee: M. Riley

Green

Neill

Upson

Davenport

Ilunga

Collison (Boa Morte)

Parker

Noble (Mullins)

Behrami

Bellamy (Di Michele)

Cole

Gianfranco Zola returned to Stamford Bridge and saw his West Ham side snatch a vital point which kept Chelsea off the top of the Premier League. Zola's struggling outfit had stunned Chelsea with a 33rd-minute opener from Craig Bellamy but Nicolas Anelka rescued the Blues with his 16th goal of the season five minutes after the break. It was Chelsea's fourth domestic home game without a win and their failure to take all three points cost them the chance to overtake Liverpool at the top of the table. Chelsea fans had given coach Zola and assistant Steve Clarke a rapturous welcome as they emerged from the tunnel to take their places in the visiting dugout. But West Ham soon found themselves under pressure from a home side determined to build on their midweek Champions League victory over CFR Cluj. In the sixth minute a superb combination between former West Ham players Joe Cole and Frank Lampard almost provided them with an opener. Cole looked set to score when Lampard's precise pass found him bearing down on the edge of the six-yard box, but his effort was deflected to safety by Scott Parker. Chelsea started the game at a frantic tempo and after Jack Collison had fouled Ashley Cole on the left flank, Lampard's 16th minute free-kick was headed wide by Alex. West Ham did exceptionally well to weather the early storm and in the 20th minute John Mikel Obi was booked for bringing down Carlton Cole in full flight. It gave Zola's side the chance to test Petr Cech with a free-kick some 30 yards out, but Mark Noble elected to chip the ball into the area and Michael Ballack headed clear. Chelsea's woeful home record took a turn for the worse in the 33rd minute when Zola's struggling side went ahead against the run of play and in controversial circumstances. Noble looked to have used his arm before crossing the ball for Bellamy to fire the visitors in front from 12 yards. Ballack was incensed by Mike Riley's decision to allow the goal to stand and was shown a yellow card for protesting. West Ham, their confidence clearly boosted, enjoyed their longest spell of possession as the interval approached. In the 45th minute, Anelka finally tested Robert Green with an 18-yard shot that was dealt with comfortably by the West Ham goalkeeper. Chelsea were booed off at half-time and TV replays showed that Noble had used his shoulder to control the ball instead of his arm in the build-up to West Ham's goal. Scolari, clearly frustrated with Chelsea's lack of a cutting edge, replaced Ballack with Didier Drogba at the interval. Drogba hardly had time to get into the game before top scorer Anelka supplied the equaliser in the 50th minute. For once Chelsea's neat approach play paid off with Mikel and Drogba combining before Lampard chipped the ball neatly into the path of Anelka, who coolly slotted the ball underneath the advancing Green for his 16th goal of the season. Chelsea were now on top and when Matthew Upson failed to clear a cross, Lampard sent the rebound into Green's midriff from the edge of the penalty area. West Ham, for the first time in the game, had little option but to defend ever deeper. The visitors were happy to soak up the pressure on the edge of their own penalty area but that only invited Chelsea to try their luck from distance. In the 64th minute Lampard let fly from 25 yards and his dipping shot had to be held at the second attempt by Green. Three minutes later Green pulled off a magnificent save to deny Drogba after he had volleyed Lampard's corner towards the near post. Salomon Kalou replaced the lacklustre Joe Cole in the 73rd minute and his first contribution was to fire a 20-yard shot straight at Green. West Ham escaped in the 78th minute when Green punched a Lampard corner towards his own goal but it was headed off the line by Parker. However, Green was the hero seconds later when he flung himself across goal to keep out a header from Alex. Referee Riley then failed to award Chelsea a penalty when Lampard was tripped by Lucas Neill but it needed a superb save from Petr Cech at the other end to deny Carlton Cole an injury-time winner.

ASTON VILLA : Barclays Premier League

08_12_20 WHU v. Aston Villa

Upton Park

0 - 1

20th December 2008

Att: 31,353

Referee: M. Halsey

Green

Neill

Davenport

Upson

Ilunga

Collison (Tristan)

Noble

Parker (Mullins)

Behrami (Bowyer)

Bellamy

Cole

Aston Villa moved into the top three of the Barclays Premier League after a slice of good fortune for James Milner earned them victory over West Ham. The winner at Upton Park came in the 78th minute after Milner's cross deflected in off Lucas Neill, with three points allowing Martin O'Neill's men to overtake Manchester United in the table. It may be one for the dubious goals panel, but it mattered little to Milner in a week where Fabio Capello suggested he would be the next Villa youngster to get an England call-up. O'Neill's young English players have given Villa fans real hope of breaking into the top four - but an American veteran in goal is also playing his part. Brad Friedel produced a string of saves to keep the scores level when the Hammers threatened through Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole. "They have plenty of pace and are very dangerous," wrote Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola in his programme notes, highlighting Villa's strengths - but he has speed in his own side through Bellamy. The Wales forward applauded Stiliyan Petrov when the Villa midfielder nutmegged him - for the rest of time he was stretching Villa's defence and creating space inside. His first effort came when he raced onto Neill's lofted pass - but the ball forced the Hammers striker into a wide angle and his shot was easily saved by Friedel. There was nothing straightforward about the American's save when Bellamy raced beyond the Villa defence to collect a pass from Herita Ilunga. Friedel stayed on his feet for as long as possible before parrying the finish. Villa's first threat came from Steve Sidwell, who drilled a low effort just wide of Robert Green's upright, then went even closer midway through the opening half after Gabriel Agbonlahor raced down the left and beat Neill for pace. The ball was pulled back for Sidwell, with Mark Noble chasing back and doing enough to make the former Chelsea midfielder slice his finish wide. England winger Ashley Young then struck the post after being gifted possession by Scott Parker. The error allowed Young to take the ball around Green but he was forced slightly wide and the finish clipped the far post. Young also went inches wide with a free-kick, while Gareth Barry felt he should have had a penalty when he tussled with Neill shortly afterwards, but referee Mark Halsey waved play on. Bellamy's pace was West Ham's outlet. Neill sent him away on the right again and when the cross came over, Curtis Davies sliced towards his own goal and Friedel was required to tip over the crossbar. Friedel also parried a long-range effort from Valon Behrami after Davies had given the ball away cheaply. Villa broke at speed just before the half-time whistle, with Green forced into a double save - from Milner then Barry - to keep the scores level heading into the break. Zola's response at half-time was to haul off Parker and bring on Hayden Mullins to protect the defence. Bellamy could not get power on the first chance of the second half, then Matthew Upson and Neill were off target with headers when they met set-pieces. Zola made another change just before the hour mark when Behrami appeared to pick up a knock, with Lee Bowyer coming on. Former Hammers midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, who predictably was greeted by a chorus of jeers, then replaced Carlos Cuellar after the defender also got injured. Cole was presented with a clear-cut chance when Neill cut in from the right and floated a cross to the far post - but the striker got under the finish and headed over. Cole had another chance in the 64th minute after Bowyer had released Bellamy to cross from the left. Luke Young blocked Cole's first effort, then Friedel produced a reflex save to stop the second. Milner picked up a booking for tripping Ilunga, but he then earned Villa the winner 12 minutes from the end. Friedel saved a close-range effort from Calum Davenport to keep the visitors ahead.

PORTSMOUTH : Barclays Premier League

08_12_26 Portsmouth v. WHU

Fratton Park

4 - 1 (Collison, Cole, Bellamy 2)

26th December 2008

Referee: S. Bennett

Att: 20,102

Green

Neill (Faubert)

Davenport

Upson

Ilunga

Collison

Noble (Boa Morte)

Parker

Behrami

Cole (Tristan)

Bellamy

08_12_26 Portsmouth v. WHU 2

Jermain Defoe's missed penalty against his old club proved costly as West Ham romped to a vital win at Portsmouth to ease the pressure on manager Gianfranco Zola. Defoe had the chance to put Pompey ahead on the stroke of half-time but fired wide, allowing West Ham to capitalise with second-half goals from Craig Bellamy, who netted twice, and Carlton Cole. Nadir Belhadj had earlier given Portsmouth an early lead, but Jack Collison equalised to send the Hammers on their way to only their second win in 13 league games. It was a third straight defeat for Portsmouth boss Tony Adams. West Ham had never won a Premier League game against Portsmouth but they dominated the early exchanges at Fratton Park. In the first minute Collison won a free-kick in a promising position after being scythed down by Sol Campbell but Bellamy, linked with a possible move away from West Ham in January, curled his effort high and wide. The early pressure did not produce a goal however, and Portsmouth settled their nerves with the opener after eight minutes. Left-back Belhadj started and finished a fine sweeping move, his cross-field pass finding Little, who launched a high cross to Peter Crouch at the far post. The striker deftly plucked the ball from the air and pulled back to Belhadj, who slammed home his second goal of the season. Collison's shot minutes later was deflected wide, but the midfielder made no mistake with West Ham's equaliser midway through the half. Cole latched on to Mark Noble's free-kick on the left and crossed low to Collison, whose first-time shot went through first the legs of Sylvain Distin and then an unsighted David James. The visitors have not scored more than one goal in a game for 12 league fixtures and their goalscoring problems were evident towards the end of the first half. Portsmouth enjoyed the better chances, with Defoe turning sharply before shooting wide and Crouch forcing a good reaction save from Robert Green with a far-post volley. Sean Davis' volley on the half-hour mark was even more impressive. The midfielder struck Belhadj's cross first time on the edge of the box, but Green was equal to it, blocking well with his legs. At the other end Mark Noble missed a sitter when, with James helpless out of his goal, he tried to chip a backpedalling Campbell who comfortably headed clear. Portsmouth were awarded a penalty just before the break when Neill fouled Crouch, but the spot-kick from Defoe, who has not scored in six games, smacked of a player lacking confidence and went wide of Green's right post. The hosts wasted no time in registering their first effort on goal after the interval. The Hammers made a hash of clearing out of their box and the ball fell to Crouch, who shot straight a Green from close range.

The England man was at it again minutes later but was off target this time, sidefooting over from Belhadj's cross, and Niko Kranjcar was equally wasteful when he blasted over from the right. West Ham responded with a close-range effort from Collison which James repelled, and from the resulting corner Matthew Upson's looping header clipped the crossbar. Defoe proved he was not dwelling on his penalty miss when he beat two players and raced into the box, but his fierce shot was caught by Green. The missed opportunities proved costly when Cole edged West Ham in front in the 69th minute. Bellamy crossed to Collison from the left and after the midfielder's shotcame back off the left post, Cole was well placed to stab home. Having taken so many games to score that elusive second goal in a match, it was ironic a third would follow minutes later for West Ham. Bellamy was put through one on one with James, and although the goalkeeper got a hand on the ball, the striker rounded him, composed himself and rifled home a high shot which beat Campbell on the line. Bellamy added gloss to the scoreline with his second goal late on, providing a neat finish to Luis Boa Morte's low cross in the 83rd minute.

STOKE CITY : Barclays Premier League

08_12_28 WHU v. Stoke City

Upton Park

2 - 1 (Cole, Tristan)

28th December 2008

Att: 34,477

Referee: M. Jones

Green

Faubert

Collins

Upson

Ilunga

Behrami

Parker (Tristan)

Collison (Mullins)

Boa Morte

Di Michele (Spector)

Cole

Stoke's miserable Christmas continued with a late 2-1 defeat at West Ham which saw Ricardo Fuller sent off for fighting with team-mate Andy Griffin. Abdoulaye Faye scored an early header to put the visitors ahead at the Boleyn Ground. But Carlton Cole scored his second goal in three days in the 51st minute to equalise, and then had a hand in the winner, his shot going in courtesy of a deflection off Diego Tristan. It gave manager Gianfranco Zola his second win in three days and propels West Ham up the league table, but in contrast Stoke have not won in six games and have slipped into the relegation zone. Shorn of the suspended Craig Bellamy, who scored twice in the 4-1 Boxing Day win at Portsmouth, West Ham's attack initially lacked sharpness. Zola also had to make three other changes because of injury, with Julien Faubert, David Di Michele and James Collins replacing Calum Davenport, Mark Noble and Lucas Neill. Stoke made two changes to the team which lost to Manchester United, with Griffin back after an ankle injury to replace the suspended Andy Wilkinson and Seyi Olofinjana brought in for Amdy Faye. West Ham have taken just one point from their last six home games, and their poor run at the Boleyn Ground looked set to continue when Stoke scored after four minutes. Fuller tested goalkeeper Robert Green after capitalising on a sloppy pass from Luis Boa Morte, and from the resulting corner an unmarked Faye headed home at the far post. Cole had a glorious chance to equalise immediately after the restart but sidefooted Jack Collison's left-wing cross wide, and Matthew Upson also headed wide in the opening exchanges. Green had to stretch to catch Richard Cresswell's lobbed shot and at the other end Thomas Sorensen made his first save when he got down to comfortably stop Collison's low effort. West Ham spent long spells camped in and around Stoke's penalty area but a combination of inaccuracy and Sorensen's athleticism kept them at bay. He did well to claw Herita Ilunga's teasing left-wing cross away from the lurking Cole, who minutes earlier had volleyed way over the bar from just inside the box. The striker then wasted the Hammers' best chance of the half when he headed over following excellent work on the right from the diminutive Di Michele. As half-time approached, Boa Morte and Ilunga combined brilliantly on the left but the latter's cross blazed across goal, somehow evading a number of team-mates. Olofinjana had the first chance of the second half when he dragged a shot wide from distance, but West Ham resumed their domination soon after and scored a deserved equaliser in the 51st minute. There was an element of fortune as Cole controlled Scott Parker's chip into the box, the ball bouncing off a defender, but there was nothing lucky about the finish. Too often criticised for his profligacy in front of goal, Cole swivelled on the loose ball to curl a shot past Sorensen into the far corner. A moment of madness then followed as Stoke went back for the restart. Fuller and Griffin became embroiled in a heated exchange which descended into pushing and shoving and resulted in Fuller being sent off by referee Michael Jones for throwing a punch at his team-mate. Galvanised by their goal and unexpected numerical advantage, West Ham poured forward and could have gone ahead but Cole volleyed wide and Parker and Di Michele both fired over. West Ham continued to pressurise with Boa Morte's scuffed shot cleared off the line by Danny Higginbotham and Parker screwing a shot wide from outside the box. In a rare foray forward, Delap tested Green with a low shot, but a minute later West Ham finally breached the defence-minded Stoke when substitute Diego Tristan deflected in Cole's shot for the winner.

CONTINUE 2 08_08_16 WHU v. Wigan Athletic - Directors 08_08_24 Manchester City v. WHU 08_08_27 WHU v. Macclesfield - Directors 08_08_30 WHU v. Blackburn Rovers 08_09_13 WBA v. WHU 08_09_20 WHU v. Newcastle United 08_09_23 Watford v. WHU CC3 08_09_27 Fulham v. WHU 08_10_05 WHU v. Bolton Wanderers 08_10_19 Hull City v. WHU 08_10_26 WHU v. Arsenal 08_10_29 Manchester United v. WHU 08_11_01 Middlesbrough v. WHU 08_11_08 WHU v. Everton 08_11_15 WHU v. Portsmouth Hayden Mullins 08_11_23 Sunderland v. WHU 08_12_01 Liverpool v. WHU 08_12_08 WHU v. Tottenham Hotspur 08_12_20 WHU v. Aston Villa

SECOND-HALF

Portsmouth:

James, Wilson, Campbell, Distin, Belhahj, Little (Traore), Davis, Hughes, Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe (Kanu)